Frequently Asked Questions
This is a small list of Frequently Asked Questions that we get all the time, and felt like sharing. will try to cover some of the basic questions wich have a breaf answer and some others wich might be a little more complicated or longer to explain. Hopefully it will answer some of those questions that might have come up!
- Where do you sleep?
- Where/what do you eat?
- Do you have a special bicycle?
- How do you choose or find a route?
- How Many Kilometers do you ride per day?
- Many say “I think I couldnt do it” (yes you can!! :D), where you very fit before you started?
- What is the cost of travelling with your bike?
- What is the most difficult in this kind of trip?
- Which place/country did you liked most?
- How do you communicate with other people?
- What equipment do you carry??
Where do you sleep?
On the streeeeeet. Good question. The answer is a combination of camping, guesthouses and Hostels. Also we tried to find nice couch surfers to host us or anyone who we meet and wants to welcome us at their place. In some places we went to the more expensive option of a Hotel (Like for example in China or Vietnam, where they where specially cheap). Travelling for a long time requires you to plan and save money everywhere you can to maintain low the costs.Areas like Europe are perfectly save and good to Camp as long as you are away from cities. Normally the best option is to cycle untill it starts to get dark, rest for the night in a nice hidden spot over the mountain or forest and start the day early. Asking in small villages or remote areas for a spot to set the tent works very well and give you a really nice feeling of safety.
Once you get to Asia, it is another story. On one hand accommodation usually is cheap (5 to 10 Euro is a wide but safe margin), and easy to find. On remote areas where there is nothing usually camping is fine too, but beware of local dangers: ie. non exploded bomb residues in vietnam or laos, dangerouse animals or unwanted poeple. Usually if you thin there is a High risk it doesn’t make sense to camp, as after riding most of the day you do need a good rest. That said, the feeling of camping under the stars in a remote area where you got after pedaling so much is one of the best feeligs you can get, so it is not only a matter of money. Animals are not a big problem, as we have find out, and it is more to worry about people disturbing you than anything else. The main rule: Safety first.Some places like Mongolia, Camping is basically the only accomodation option you hve anyway.
Where/what do you eat?
This also really depends where you are.
In Europe whe used to cook our own food a lot, and enjoy some street food now and then, plus usually stopping for some proper breakfast. A very easy and fast solution is to carry some cous cous, as it is super fast to cook, gives you tons of energy and doesn’t require as much water as other pasta or rice. Of course plenty of vegetables, which usually we buy for a day or two ahead, but we don’t carry much more, as we keep to carry the weight of luggage down! plus you don’t have a fridge anyway, so things go bad faster.
Of course Chocolate.
In areas like Mongolia you realy have to carry much and stock up as you can be without anything to eat for hundreds of kilometers.
In the rest of Asia, in the other hand eating is cheap, and most of the time even cheaper to buy a food on the street than buying the condiments and cooking it by yourself, so usually we eat out. The main reason why we would sometimes not eat out would be because we sometimes get bored of the food and prefer to cook something with a different taste.
Important to note that we ARE vegetarian, so, on one hand we do not have to worry about meat etc getting bad (it is much easier with veggetables really) and easier to cook. At some places in the other hand it gets really hard to eat correctly as they cook everything with meat, and won’t understand the concept even. If you eat everything it is easier in Asia.
Do you have a special bicycle?
Not really. We have a couple of parts that we really wanted in order to keep our mind off mechanical problems, and to help us a little (A good seddle, lockout fork, good pedalier (shimano deore works wonders to us), good quality tyres).
we ride regular bikes, simmilar to Touring or Trecking, but nothing too special. Basically you can do it with any bicycle you are confortable to ride with, for several hours(try to ride your bike at home for 30km you will get to know if it is ok for you or not).
We chose 28inch wheels to go a little faster, but regular 26 are fine too and easier to find replacement in Asia (really finding a 28 inch wheel sometimes was a nightmare, but we DID find some).
We have a lockout fork, wich is closed maybe 90% of the time, but sometimes is usefull to get a little of suspension. Really a hard fixed fork does work great, and probbly the usual always opened suspension is not such a good idea.
Basically choose a stiff bike that you can manage, repair and carry. The rest is up to you. And if you love your bike, even better!!
How do you choose or find a route?
Usually we use a combination of google maps, bicycle routes, secondary roads, foot paths sometimes, and some normal maps.
The most usual thing will be like: Choose a certain number of places you would like to get through (like some medium cities or natural parks, or villages or beaches) and choose the most cyclable road. This depends where you are, and can be a secondary road in Europe (or even third or fouth or so), and avoid highways. In Asia, usually bigger roads are fast and cyclable but depends on the country and traffic level. Keep in mind you are in a bicycle, you need to plan towards that, and not to try to see EVERYTHING, most of the trip is about having fun cicylng too.
We particularly enjoyed the Eurovelo route through France and germany, plus other pilgtims routes in Spain, Poland, Cz republic, etc. We do look if there are big mountains ahead, and the profile of the route, at least now and then. *Click here to know how*
How Many Kilometers do you ride per day?
This has changed over time, and the fitter you get the more you do. We found out people who cycled up to 140km, but really to do this day after day, we feel confortable to ride something between 70km and 90km per day. We can do more, but it really pushes your body, and it is not the same to ride 15 days or two months that a year or two. Sometimes we did as little as 45km for some days, to recover fatigue or on very mountaneous areas, or very bad road paths and in the start we where in the range of 50km to 60km, which took us most of the day. Now we ride faster, stop much less and use our time and energies better. It turns out that we like riding about 4hours per day, and to stop a couple of times. You really get fit very fast, so is much a matter of will rather than anything else.
What is the cost of travelling with your bike?
As always depends where do you go, and how much you want to spend, or what particular needs you have.
To get a REAL idea there is a good way of estimating the costs: Search on any page of accomodation (for exmple bookings.com works well for us) and pick up a couple of places where you could stay if you are going to use acomodation, and multiply for the number of days you are going out. Don’t choose just the cheapest but rather the medium or lower options as in many places you arrive there is no internet booking etc, and the usual cost of a night stop in a guesthouse is usually quite standard price in a country. Add expenses like food and water, juices. We right now spend the most on acomodation, as there are places where you just can not avoid it by camping.
France was the most expensive for us in Europe, and Germany tuned the cheapest. In Asia, you can easily eat for around 1 to 2Euro per person per meal, and normally* find accomodation between 5 and 10. Note we pay between 5 and 10Euros PER ROOM, so being two, lowers a bit the expense.
If you do have a tent don’t hesitate about asking villagers about camping in their area, you would be surprised how well this works. Most countries are safe to camp, but as said before, do read and ask about any security issues or problems. We did camp in China, Mongolia, Cambodia, Thailand, and the whole of Europe. We did not camp in Vietnam or Laos due to non exploded mines from war. We didn’t camp in malaysia nor indonesia, as we didn’t feel it was secure enaugh, and we couldn’t cycle so much anyway (too hot, too many traffic). We don’t plan on camping in India neither. So just be clever, play it safe!
What is the most difficult in this kind of trip?
The hardest on this kind if trip is actually to start it. You will find out so many people who bring up so many excuses, terror stories and questionings that the might end up killing your will to go out and do something different. After this, the first weeks are harder probably than anything else during the whole trip, as the body needs some time to get fit and get used to go on in a very different dynamic rather than what it was doing ( becoming a nomad a.k.a active versus being inactive. Nowadays there is no need to move so much inside a city except for going to work or for a couple of places to enjoy some time out, and it is too usual to use cars, metro buses… When cycling this changes, and most of you energy goes to moving yourself from one place to another).
Also you have tons of time to think, analyse stuff, meditate, so mentally is a challenge, and could be harder than phisically. You will get strong really fast, so that probably is the ladt thing to worry about. I would say that keeping it safe is really important, and a matter ofbcommob sense, which will make everything smooth and avoid most of the bad situations. In the end being in a bike is an exercise that brings a smile yp your face, keeps you healthy and strong, it is also so far our biggest and more life learning experience so there is no time lost, which some people think that could be, like being away from a fix job for example. You get experience, and learn so much that certainly can open as many doors as anything else.
Which place/country did you liked most?This is a very hard question to answer, and basically we really liked most of the places we went and all have so many stories behind to remember. We really keeps deep inside the lovelly rides in europe, the emptiness of Mongolia, the Alps, the culture shock of Asia in general, the crazy studied caos of China, Thailand’s beaches, Cambodian temples, india food & colours…
How do you communicate with other people?
Well that in our experience has never been a big problem. We have used English everywhere we went, and in most cases you will find someone who speaks some English. Even if it is very basic, it is normally enough to get understood. Apart from this body language, signs and mimics usually work wonders. In any case we always enjoy learning some basic words to tell and listen then language, plus usually how to say some numbers and a bunch of basic products, like eater, eggs, rice and specially “how much for”. It really helps in places where no p e speaks nothing but the local language. Usually we have also the Google translate app ready on the phone which sometimes is super helpful and sometimes gets you something completely different to what you expected to order, for example. In any case it brings many funny moments and more than a laugh, and does not complicate things too much. And basically you get the feeling of what is going on (if you feel it good probably it is, if you feel bad on any situation and not comfortable there is no need tobubderatand anything more, just leave and try somewhere else).
What equipment do you carry??
For this maybe a full article is better, but I will go to the basics of what we used, which may be more that you need, or maybe you would need to include many other things to this. For us it was clear that in such a kind og trip even though the weight on the bike is not something to worry (surprised??:)) we chose to keep it to the basics, and rely on our environment, what we could do, and what we could build with some basic tools. So we had stuff to cook, to sleep, to change, to carry water, bicycle tools, repair parts, some money in cash, some more money saved in credit card mode in the bank, and a mobile phone that Tony used for almost everything (from work to maps). This was probably the most usefull tool on a daylibase (a nexus 4, that had multiple problems but wich we where able to solve. Google maps, helps a ton on many things, from measuring distances, to locating you. Communication such as finding hosts on couch surfin too. I took a small blutetooth keyboard, for coding stuff which I rarely used, but was very nice to have when serious work had to be done. For the food we had a very small gas can (less than 200gr.) and a replace. A small size burner, a cooking pan to cook in (small, just the right size for 2), water bottles, a knife, chopsticks. A T2 Quechua ultralight tent, and two up to -10º sleeping bags from northface (wich where the most expensive gear we had, appart from the bicycle itself. A multi tool for the bicycles, whire (for the bike and for stuff), a peace of good celotape, some clothes, not too many, it is better to carry little, and if in need get some more where you are, it is cheaper, and you don´t have to carry it everywhere, plus you return with fancy clothes from somewhere else!. Just get in mind if you will get to cold places beforehead and you will be fine. Oh and some very light air mattresseses. Some maps, some zipbags, something to write in, and many colours for painting wich evetually where given as little presents. Oh and an Ukelele for music. I went as a dissater of a player, and came back almost as bad, but a little better, but it was really really fun to play (and I played a lot, yes and very bad). We have met people carrying many things, such as big cameras and laptops etc. It is possible to do so, but for us it was much more a worry rather than anything else, plus most of the things where done by a modern cellphone really.